Category Artificial Intelligence

In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY | MANUFACTURING

A Better Way to Adiponitrile

Adiponitrile is an important precursor for making nylon 6,6 and one of the most produced chemicals worldwide. Industry generally synthesizes it through an energy-intensive process involving acutely toxic reactants. The less-often-used route is driven by electrochemistry; it’s environmentally-friendly but inefficient. Researchers at NYU discovered that pulsing the current used to drive the reaction could increase yields and then used a machine-learning algorithm to optimize the process. The result: they increased selectivity by 325% and yields by 30%. [C&EN]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Allen Institute’s Aristo AI System Finally Passes an Eighth-Grade Science Test

It’s easy to mistake extraordinarily good (but narrow) AI performance in a single domain for human-like reasoning, yet very few machines are capable of the feat. A minor milestone was reached last month, however, by a program developed specifically for test-taking: it managed to score 90% on a multiple choice science test usually given to New York eighth-graders. But there are caveats. [GEEKWIRE]

STRATEGY | NEGOTIATION

One Negotiation Strategy That Will Make You a World-Class Negotiator


Hyperfocus is required to negotiate, but it’s also where we most often trip ourselves up in any complex negotiation. We become myopic, losing sight of the context and larger goal of the negotiation. This simple strategy can solve the problem and help you become a better negotiator by getting outside your biases and preconceptions. [INC]

LANGUAGE | INFORMATION THEORY

Listening For Extraterrestrial Blah Blah

After listening for decades, the general consensus is that we have never heard a signal from an alien civilization. But what if we have and we just didn’t recognize it? By applying information theory to the communications of socially complex animals, scientists have broadened our understanding of what signals generated by an alien intelligence might look like and are applying this understanding to an analysis of data collected by the Allen Telescope Array at the SETI Institute. [NAUTILUS]

QUANTUM COMPUTING

Quantum Radar Demonstrated For the First Time

Researchers created the world’s first quantum radar, a device that can detect objects at a distance using only a few photons and emitting little detectable electromagnetic radiation. This device could have potential for use in both non-invasive biomedical and security applications. [MIT TECH REVIEW]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

ASTROPHYSICS

A Flashing Mystery is Unfolding at the Center of the Milky Way

At the heart of our galaxy lies a black hole with some four million times the mass of the sun. Known as Sagittarius A* (which is pronounced “Sagittarius A star”), it creates a tumultuous environment, whipping stars around at millions of miles per hour and shredding any asteroids that come close with the force of its gravity. The beast now appears to be acting even more aggressively than usual, flashing twice as brightly as astrophysicists have ever seen before. [POPULAR SCIENCE]

CHEMISTRY | BIOLOGY

Did Biology Begin with Tiny Bubbles?

New research suggests that tiny, heated, gas-filled bubbles in hydrothermal rocks could have kick-started life’s emergence on prebiotic Earth. Simulation experiments suggest that bubbles could enrich prebiotic molecules and enable six essential processes that could eventually give rise to life, adding weight to the idea that conditions at hydrothermal vents were ideal for life to first form. [ROYAL SOCIETY]

INNOVATION

Telling a Good Innovation Story

Partners at McKinsey spent three years researching how people frame their innovation stories to create differentiation and attract attention. After analyzing more than 1000 “innovation stories,” they extracted three lessons for senior managers and entrepreneurs on what makes a compelling an emotional story. [MCKINSEY]

SEMICONDUCTORS | ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Cerebras Systems Unveils a Record 1.2 Trillion Transistor Chip for AI

A California based startup, Cerebras Systems, this week revealed the largest processor ever built, with 400,000 cores on a single chip. Why build bigger when the trend over the past decades has been smaller and smaller? Because it’s ideal for AI applications where it dramatically speeds training time. [VENTURE BEAT]

INNOVATION

Top Emerging Technologies 2019

Leading technology experts from around the globe evaluated dozens of proposals to come up with this list of emerging technologies poised to shake up the world. Some of them will surprise you. [WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

COATINGS | MATERIAL SCIENCE

Researchers Develop Ice-Proof Coating for Large Surfaces

Based on insights from the field of fracture mechanics, researchers at the University of Michigan developed a new class of coatings that sheds ice effortlessly from even large surfaces. The work could move the world closer to reaching the long-sought goal of ice-proofing cargo ships, airplanes, power lines and other large structures. [PCI]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE | VOICE ANALYSIS

How to Catch a Criminal Using Only Milliseconds of Audio

A criminal who made repeated hoax distress calls to the US Coast Guard over the course of 2014 probably thought they were untouchable. They left no fingerprints or DNA evidence behind and made sure their calls were too brief to allow investigators to triangulate their location. Unfortunately for this hoaxer, however, voice analysis powered by AI is now so advanced that it can reveal far more about you than a mere fingerprint. [WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM]

PERSONAL PRIVACY | CORPORATE SECURITY

Your Browser Extensions Are Leaking Sensitive Data and Your Boss Is Spying on You [links in the text below]

I Found Your Data. It’s For Sale. As many a 4 million people are leaking personal and corporate secrets through Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. The data these extension are gathering and then selling is . . . well . . . alarming: user names, passwords, patient names, medications, tax records, top-secret corporate R&D projects, and corporate network firewall codes. [WASHINGTON POST]

The New Ways Your Boss Is Spying on You. Many companies are employing high-tech surveillance to examine employee activity in the workplace. Advocates insist that monitoring every move and message of employees is necessary to allow companies to root out problems, spot high performers, and better allocate resources. Critics are concerned that workers are giving far too much of their personal privacy.
[WSJ]

DISRUPTION | INNOVATION

Is It Possible to Disrupt a Cow?

The cow is a new sort of target for Silicon Valley: it’s not a hunk of capital, it won’t join your social network, and it certainly won’t be called by an API. It is, instead, evolved to turn feed into protein as efficiently as nature allows, solar powered, fully autonomous, and has achieved a perfect product-market fit. So why are billions in venture capital betting on its competitors? [PERSPICACITY]

PHYSICS

The Greatest Long-Term Threats Facing Humanity

This is NOT a piece about threats that are already here like climate change or Ebola. Instead, it’s a fascinating look at the known, well-understood threats of the far future and speculation about how we might overcome them. And, naturally, it concludes with a spot-on reference to Isaac Asimov’s great short story, “The Last Question”. [BBC]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

SCIENCE

The Future of Helium is Up in the Air

Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, but what we have on Earth today is all we have: it’s is only created as a byproduct of the (very slow) underground decay of uranium and thorium, and we are experiencing a worldwide shortage. Everything from optical fibers and semiconductors to MRI imaging, airbags, and the Hadron Collider (start on page 7) will be profoundly affected. [SMITHSONIAN | ACS]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

The Secrets of Machine Learning: Ten Things You Wish You Had Known Earlier to be More Effective at Data Analysis

A lengthy but in-depth look at the failures and successes of machine learning and how this information can be used to achieve higher quality, more valuable data science. [ARVIX]

TEAMWORK | MANAGEMENT

Small Teams of Scientists Have Fresher Ideas

“Big teams take the current frontier and exploit it,” says James Evans, a University of Chicago sociologist who studies the history of science. “They wring the towel. They get that last ounce of possibility out of yesterday’s ideas, faster than anyone else. But small teams fuel the future, generating ideas that, if they succeed, will be the source of big-team development.” R&D organizations should take note: small teams produce markedly more disruptive work than large ones. [ATLANTIC]

INTERNET OF THINGS | BUSINESS MODEL

How Does an Icebox Pay for a Data Plan?

While the widely circulated prediction of the world having 50 billion connected devices by 2020 has proven wildly optimistic, the IoT market continues to grow steadily. Many in the industry are betting that cellular IoT will be the winning connectivity choice, but provisioning is a challenge. As in many areas, the problem is not the technology, it’s the business model. [EETIMES]

AEROSPACE

NASA Captured Photos of Merging Supersonic Shock Waves

Supersonic shock waves are created when aircraft travel faster than the speed of sound. The air pressure can’t keep up with the speed of the aircraft, builds up, and results in a sonic boom. Recently, two U.S. Air Force craft were not only traveling faster than the speed of sound, but they were so close that their shockwaves merged and NASA was able to capture it on camera. [LIVE SCIENCE]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

PHYSICS | MATERIALS

With a Simple Twist, a ‘Magic’ Material Is Now the Big Thing in Physics

The stunning emergence of a new type of superconductivity with the mere twist of a carbon sheet has left physicists giddy and its discoverer nearly overwhelmed. The possibilities for higher-temperature superconductivity, revolutionary electronics, and the arrival of quantum computers are exciting, but the discovery has also opened a window into a relatively simple platform to explore exotic quantum effects. [QUANTA]

POLYMERS | CHEMISTRY

This New Plastic Can Be Endlessly Recycled

Many plastics can’t be reused without “downcycling” due to manufacturing additives. But a new material developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, PDK, may provide a solution: it can be deconstructed to the molecular level, separated from additives, and then reused as if new. And it’s not the only one; just last year, another new polymer was described as ‘infinitely’ recyclable. [SMITHSONIAN and SCIENCE DAILY]

INNOVATION

How to Stop Playing “Target Market Roulette”: A New Addition to the Lean Toolset

The Lean Methodology tells you how to rapidly find product/market fit inside a specific market and how to pivot when your hypotheses are incorrect, but it doesn’t help you figure out how to locate the best market for you new invention in the first place. A new book by Mark Gruber and Sharon Tai, Where to Play, closes this gap. In this post by Steve Blank, he asks the authors to summarize their technique and provide an example of how to use it. [STEVE BLANK]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE | BOOK REVIEW | PODCAST

How Will AI Change Our Lives? Experts Can’t Agree — and that Could Be a Problem

Some experts warn that AI represents an existential threat to human life, while others find the argument ridiculous. Two new books—Possible Minds, edited by John Brockman, and Architects of Intelligence by Martin Ford—take similar approaches to grappling with the topic. Across the books, 45 researchers describe their thinking. Almost all perceive something momentous on the horizon, but they disagree profoundly on whether it should give us pause. For further thinking on the subject, listen to Sam Harris’s interesting interview with three of the contributors to Possible Minds. [VOX | MAKING SENSE PODCAST]

ASTROPHYSICS | VIDEO

A Violent Splash of Magma That May Have Made the Moon

Scientists remain uncertain about the moon’s origin. A study published a few weeks ago in Nature Geoscience suggests that it was forged from the fires of an ocean of magma sloshing over the baby Earth’s surface. If correct, the model may solve a longstanding paradox and help explain the evolution of our own planet. [NYT]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

POLYMERS | MATERIAL SCIENCE

A New Spring for Polymers in Japan

Supported by government funding, researchers in Japan have invented an array of novel polymers. One such material is a new type of aerogel called superfunctional air, or Sufa. Made of up to 98% air, it has superb insulation properties and transparency similar to glass, making it excellent for use in windows. And unlike other aerogels, it is softer, retains its shape after being pressed, and dries on its own, dramatically driving down production costs. [C&EN]

BATTERIES | ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Electric Car Battery with 600 Miles of Range? This Startup Claims to Have Done It

Innolith, a Swiss startup, claims to have made the world’s first 1,000 Wh/kg rechargeable lithium battery. With most electric car batteries topping out at about 250 Wh/kg, it sounds like a specious claim. But Innolith says the difference lies in the technology: they use an inorganic, salt-like material instead of the highly flammable organic solvent traditionally used in “wet” lithium-ion batteries. Plans are to launch a pilot program in Germany, and have the batteries ready for market by 2022. [VERGE]

MANAGEMENT | PSYCHOLOGY

Maslow Didn’t Make the Pyramid that Changed Management History

According to a new study by three management professors, the ubiquitous Maslow’s Pyramid infographic was not designed by the psychologist, but by a management consultant inspired by a theorist’s flawed interpretation of Maslow’s ideas (which many believe to be flawed themselves). When the oversimplified interpretation was applied to business management, it took on a life of its own. [QUARTZ]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Teaching Machines to Reason About What They See

Researchers want computers to reason more like humans. To accomplish this, they are merging statistical with symbolic programming. Popular in the mid-twentieth century, symbolic AI uses less data and inputs, instead relying on rules and logic to help machines connect images with words and make comparisons, much like a young child would. Studies led by the MIT-IBM research team are showing promising results. [MIT]

PHYSICS | VIDEO

Video: Phase-Changing Material Keeps Ice at Bay

Accumulation of ice on wind turbines or power lines can be damaging and dangerous. This short video details how dimethyl sulfoxide, which freezes at a higher temperature than water, is employed to keep ice from forming on surfaces. [C&EN]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

PHYSICS

Physicists Reverse Time Using Quantum Computer

In a four-stage experiment, researchers have seemingly defied the second law of thermodynamics and reversed time. Observing highly organized qubits on a quantum computer, they used an evolution program to cause chaos among the qubits, then used the same algorithm to rewind the qubits to their original state. [PHYS ORG]

DRONES | TECHNOLOGY

Your Drone-Delivered Coffee is (Almost) Here

With major cities packed with tall buildings, trucks, people, and power lines, some delivery services are focusing their drone delivery efforts on less challenging rural and suburban areas. Experiments underway in the U.S., Iceland, and Australia using a new generation of bigger, faster drones, are proving that drone deliveries are more cost and energy efficient than cars in less populated locales. [WSJ]

STRATEGY | ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

How to Develop an Artificial Intelligence Strategy: 9 Things Every Business Must Include

Artificial Intelligence has the power to transform the world, and if your business isn’t figuring out how to use it to your advantage, you risk being left behind. Here, Bernard Marr lays out a tight roadmap detailing the questions you should be asking and the steps you should be taking right now. [FORBES]

CLIMATE SCIENCE | ECOLOGY

Rise of the Golden Jackal

One of the least-studied canine predators, the Golden Jackal, once inhabited only the fringes of Europe. But over the past two decades its range has exploded, and jackals now outnumber wolves in Europe by more than 5-to-1. This unheard-of expansion of a medium-sized predator has scientists—and the general public—grappling with what the long-term ecological impacts may be for the continent. [NYT]

BIOLOGY

The 500-Year-Long Science Experiment

After Charles Cockell of the University of Edinburgh revived bacteria from a 10-year-old dried petri dish he had forgotten about, he became intrigued by questions about bacterial longevity. So Cockell and a group of German and U.S. collaborators designed a 500-year experiment to try and answer them. At the heart of the experiment are 800 hermetically sealed vials of bacteria, some of which will be tested every 25 years. Opening vials, adding water, and counting colonies that grow is easy. The hard part is ensuring someone will be doing this on schedule for 500 years. [ATLANTIC]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

BLOCKCHAIN

Once Hailed as Unhackable, Blockchains Are Now Getting Hacked

While the security of blockchain technology has been one of its major selling points, recent hacks of multiple cryptocurrency exchanges have raised alarms. In response to hackers making off with millions by exploiting flaws in the technology, several startups have been created to detect these vulnerabilities and fix the issues before hackers find them. [TECH REVIEW]

MATERIALS SCIENCE | POLYMERS

New Form of Self-Healing Material Discovered

Many self-healing materials are limited by manufacturing costs and complex chemistry, limiting their commercial potential. This new, ethylene-based functionalized polyolefin is much simply to develop and does not required external factors to trigger the self-healing mechanism. The versatile material can be formed into tough elastomers which can be stretched and then return to their original shape even after being subjected to mechanical damage. [DIGITAL JOURNAL]

FUTURE OF WORK | MANAGEMENT

A Harvard Dropout’s Plan to Fix College Admissions With Video Games

Acquiring a degree from college has long been used as the litmus test for entry into the job market. But what if there was a more effective way for employers to identify talent than checking off a list of degrees a prospective employee has earned? The startup Imbellus, founded by a young Harvard dropout, has developed a solution in the form of problem-solving video games that measure critical thinking, adaptability, and decision making skills, qualities economists and employers say are much needed in rapidly changing workplaces across the world. McKinsey is already using the technology to evaluate job candidates and finds that it predicts success better than the written testing they have traditionally done. [BLOOMBERG]

NEUROSCIENCE | ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Columbia Engineers Translate Brain Signals Directly Into Speech

By utilizing artificial intelligence and speech synthesizers, neuroengineers have created technology that translates thought into recognizable speech. This development could spearhead new ways for computers and brains to connect directly and help people who have lost the ability to speak. [COLUMBIA]

TECHNOLOGY

Ten Recent Low-Tech Inventions That Have Changed the World

This non-exhaustive list takes a quick look at low-tech inventions that many probably take for granted. From improved water filters to paper microscopes, these inventions have changed the lives of many. [MIT TECH REVIEW]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

NANOPARTICLES | BIOENGINEERING

Nanoparticles Give Mice Infrared Vision

The ability to see infrared light has only been available to a select few species . . . until now. Scientist at the University of Science & Technology of China have designed nanoparticles that stick to the light-detecting cells of retinas and injected them into the eyes of mice. The particles convert infrared light into green light allowing the mice to respond to light they otherwise cannot see. [ATLANTIC]

STRATEGY

How Blockbuster, Kodak, and Xerox Really Failed (It’s Not What You Think)

Go to just about any conference today and you will hear a familiar tale of woe. A once great corporation, which had dominated its industry, fails to adapt and descends into irrelevance. The protagonists of these stories always come out looking more than a little bit silly, failing to recognize business trends that seem obvious.The problem with these stories is that they are rarely true. [DIGITALTONTO]

EVOLUTION

Beauty is Making Scientists Rethink Evolution

It has long been believed that beauty in the animal kingdom was an indicator of good health or survival skills and therefore a significant part of natural selection. But a new crop of biologists disagree and are now favoring a once ridiculed and abandoned theory—that animals appreciate beauty for beauty’s sake—posited by Charles Darwin almost 150 years ago. [NYT]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Artificial Intelligence Milestones From 1637 to 2018

A brief history of important artificial intelligence milestones. While the list starts in the 1600s with Rene Descartes and his thoughts on machines and their possibilities, the rest of the breakthroughs appear about halfway through the 20th century. [LINKEDIN]

ASTRONOMY | PODCAST

More on Interstellar Visitor Oumuamua

Back in November, we included a story about Oumuamua, the first interstellar object detected in our solar system, a body so strange that we still cannot rule out the possibility that its origin is artificial. In this fascinating podcast, Avi Loeb, chairman of the astronomy department at Harvard, describes the facts that led him to publish a controversial paper arguing that Oumuamua is not a natural object. The episode is also available on iTunes, etc. [AFTER ON PODCAST]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

GEOLOGY

Earth’s Magnetic Field is Acting Up and Geologists Don’t Know Why

Driven by a fast moving jet of liquid iron beneath Canada, Earth’s north magnetic pole is traveling away from North America, has crossed the International Date Line, and is headed towards Siberia. It is changing so rapidly that experts have to update the World Magnetic Model, which governs all modern navigation, a year earlier than scheduled. [NATURE]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE | MATERIALS SCIENCE

Artificial Intelligence Meets Materials Science

Developing and launching new advanced materials can take decades, but an engineering research team at Texas A&M is employing machine learning, data science, and a wealth of expert knowledge to accelerate the process. Their autonomous program uses an algorithm that—while working with very little initial data—adaptively picks the best machine learning models to find the optimal material to fit any given criteria. [PHYS ORG]

MANAGEMENT | LEADERSHIP

Hiring Intrapreneurs: A Practical Guide

If you can ignore the goofy graphics and the too-cute analogies, there is a wealth of good information in here about the nature of intrapreneurs and what it takes to support their work, an effort that can be richly rewarding for any company. [BOARD OF INNOVATION]

MANAGEMENT | LEADERSHIP

19 Workplace Predictions for 2019

A quick, sarcastic look at some of the biggest challenges facing employers and employees in the coming year. [LINKEDIN]

PHYSICS | CHEMISTRY

The Periodic Table is an Icon. But Chemists Still Can’t Agree on How to Arrange It

The at-once recognizable shape and patterns of the 150 year-old periodic table may one day be not so recognizable. While new elements have been discovered and added to the table over the years and have changed its look slightly, there are many scientists who believe its current iteration is not its best configuration. Some think the question comes down to whether the table is shaped by physics or chemistry. As the debate rages on, we may just end up with more than one table hanging in our labs and classrooms to tell a more complete picture of chemistry. [C&EN]

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